Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese

Cavatappi and cheese with broccoli in a bowl on a blue background.

What is better than a warm bowl of ooey gooey cheese and pasta after a long day? Maybe having it on your plate within 15 minutes. That can be your reality with this instant pot macaroni and cheese. What's really great, is that most of that time does not involve you; it practically cooks itself. So throw on your pajamas, hide under a pile of blankets on the couch, and enjoy your easy peasy mac and cheesy.

Best add-ins for mac and cheese

You have the power to keep this as easy as possible or to add complexity and flavor. Add one or a few of the below options to mix it up.

Proteins: While the cheese provides a nice portion of protein, you can still "beef" it up. Try pulled pork, crumbled bacon, or spicy shredded chicken.

Vegetables: Tell yourself this is a healthy dish by incorporating some vegetables. My favorite add-ins are broccoli, roasted asparagus, peas, and butternut squash cubes or puree.

Flavor enhancers: While there is plenty of flavor in this mac and cheese, sometimes you really want a clear zing of flavor. Try a tablespoon or two of Buffalo sauce, barbecue sauce, or pesto.

Mac and cheese with barbecued pulled pork.


Can this macaroni and cheese be frozen for later?

This macaroni and cheese freezes relatively well just be sure to use a pasta like cavatappi that holds its shape better. When re-heating add a tablespoon of milk to the bowl and heat in 30 second increments, mixing the pasta between each.

What pasta works best for instant pot macaroni and cheese?

Because a pressure cooker is used for this recipe, a pasta that holds its shape works best. Examples include cavatappi, rotini, or rigatoni.

Why should you use a pressure cooker for mac and cheese?

The main advantage of using a pressure cooker for this dish is the speed. You can have dinner ready in just about 15 minutes, similar to making a boxed version but more flavorful. Also, this recipe is easier than making traditional mac and cheese, with no roux required.

Try these other instant pot recipes!

A bowl of pressure cooker macaroni and cheese with broccoli. A fork is placed in the bowl, ready to grab a bite.

Whether you're feeling great or depressed, tired or full of energy, you can make this mac and cheese happen. Gather those ingredients, run your pressure cooker, then add many cheeses. Your good night is coming soon.

Keep your belly full, your mind engaged, and your heart open.

Instant pot macaroni and cheese with broccoli in a bowl.

Instant pot macaroni and cheese

Make a satisfying, creamy, and cheesy dinner in 15 minutes.
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Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Course Dinner, instant pot, pasta
Cuisine American
Servings 4 servings


  • Pressure cooker


  • 1 box Cavatappi*
  • 4 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup shredded gouda cheese**
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard smooth
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper


  • To the pot of your pressure cooker add the pasta, broth, and butter.
  • Set the instant pot to pressure cook for 7 minutes. If you use a different type of pasta, set this as the shortest time in the directions on the package.
  • When the pressure cooker is done, release the pressure, remove the lid, and turn off the device. Add the remaining ingredients to the pasta. Stir pasta for 2-3 minutes until all cheese is melted and the sauce has fully mixed together and slightly thickened.
  • If desired, mix in your preferred meat, vegetable, or sauce add-ins at this point.


*Pasta: Cavatappi holds up well in the instant pot. Other good options are rigatoni, rotini, or penne.
**Cheese: Gouda adds a nice smokey flavor. Other options include parmesan, Monterey jack,  or pepper jack.
Keyword 15 minute mac and cheese, instant pot, mac and cheese, macaroni and cheese, meals for depression, pressure cooker, quick mac and cheese
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